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What Does Blooming Mean to a Tulip?
A Journey into Inquiry

Discovering through Inquiry

“Curiosity is the centerpiece of inquiry -- the desire to know (in Greek, scio. -- etymological root for the word science); and curiosity is indicated by a question or questions (voiced or acted out). To inquire is to seek, obtain and make meaning from answers to one's questions. In science inquiry, questions generally relate to natural and man-made phenomena.”
- Hubert Dyasi

Drawing in the garden
Sappington School
credit Laurie Johnston

A blooming tulip to most of us is a sign that the cold winter months have passed and spring has arrived. What a pleasure it is to finally see this bright red color after a drab, brown and gray winter. But, have you ever thought about what blooming means to a tulip?

Investigation: Begin by Looking
Let’s investigate this question, “What does blooming mean to a tulip.”
Start out by going outside when your tulips are blooming (or bring tulips indoors, or just draw from memory). Take your science journals.

  • Draw everything you see about the tulip plants.
  • Label the parts of your plant drawing as best you can.

Scientific Thinking: Begin by Sharing
Talk about your drawings. What are the functions of each plant part? How much detail did you draw and label?

Brainstorm what you know about tulip plants as the first step in creating a "KWL" chart (what I know, what I want to know, what I've learned). Add another category to your chart, “What I think I know.”

What do you know about the life cycle of tulips? Did you know that the bulbs you planted last fall were about 3 years old from the seed? What purpose do flowers have? Where does this seed come from? Why do tulips emerge and bloom so early in the spring? Do tulips make fruit? Where is it?

Reflection: Thinking through Reflection
Choose one or two of your questions and answer them in your science journals. Sit in a circle and share your answers with the group. Listen respectfully to the answers and respond by agreeing or disagreeing.

Research: Verify your Reasons
Add more information to your KWL chart. Send out teams to research life-cycle questions and return with information to confirm your answers.

Assessment: Show What You Learned

A Spring Leaf-out Book

Try writing a class book about plants for kindergarten students. Create a fan-fold, or accordion book, starting with a seed taped to the first page. Tell the story of a seed becoming a blooming plant.

Try This!
Create your own timeline book. Collect observations and plants as the days pass into the season. Make an accordian book with all the things you have collected. Add your questions, notes and drawings to make it a keepsake for years to come.


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